Pictures: ITFC

I'VE developed a default position when times are hard at Ipswich Town.

When the frustration subsides (trust me, there's been plenty of that this week), I find it impossible not to become misty-eyed and reflect on happier days.

Living in the past was something I became accustomed to last season (anything to deflect my attention from events on the pitch) and I felt nostalgic again when hearing the news that former Town favourite Hermann Hreidarsson has taken over as assistant boss at Saturday's opponents, Southend United.

I started covering Ipswich in the summer of 2000 and his move to the club - a then-record £4.5 million switch from Wimbledon - was big news in the Gazette.

Like all Town fans, I've got fond memories of Hermann's time at Portman Road.

He was a pivotal figure in the club's astonishing fifth-place finish in the Premier League - a powerhouse, man-mountain of a left-back who also chipped in with a memorable goal in a win at Manchester City (did that really happen?!).


More goals followed the next season, against West Ham and Helsingborg, in the UEFA Cup.

But it was his friendly, genial personality that I remember as much as his performances on the pitch.

Win, lose or draw, he was always great to interview.

Every chat started and finished with bone-crunching handshakes and I remember him playfully slapping me on the back one day, nearly sending me spinning across the Norfolk border (slight exaggeration but he certainly caught me off-guard).

Now Town and Hermann are set to meet again, except this time in opposition.

He and new Southend boss Sol Campbell clearly have their work cut out, given the Shrimpers' dismal form and Tuesday's 7-1 annihilation against Doncaster.

Then again, the same can be said of Ipswich, whose bright start has been overshadowed by flat, inept performances against Accrington and Rotherham.

From being praised for his wily squad rotation, Paul Lambert suddenly has the look of a tinkerman unsure of his strongest line-up; a manager without a plan B.

True, it's only two games; it's easy to over-react and this week's disappointment must not overshadow what's gone before.

However, it's undoubtedly worrying and a huge improvement will be needed and demanded in what's now an even bigger game across the Essex border.